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Clyburn Defends Ulysses Grant, Calls for Removal of Calhoun Statue

As protesters across the country topple or call for the removal of racist statues depicting heroes of the Confederacy, House Majority Whip James Clyburn has also railed against other figures such as John C. Calhoun, the former vice president who defended slavery and whose statue still stands within the Capitol.

Clyburn, the third-ranking House Democrat, said such figures do not deserve “a place of honor” among American heroes.

But the venerable South Carolina congressman also defended some targets of the protesters, including former Presidents George Washington and Ulysses S. Grant.

“I know enough about history to know that Ulysses Grant was the best friend that former slaves had coming out of the Civil War,” Clyburn said in the first installment of “Reflections,” a series of digital interviews conducted by The Hill on systemic racism and implicit bias in the United States.

“I know that what caused him great pause when he was about to marry, the young lady he wanted to marry, he had real problems with the fact that she — that her family owned slaves,” Clyburn added. “So it was a big mistake on the part of anybody to tear down his statue, and the same thing applies to a lot of others.”

Asked his thoughts on vandalism against statues of anti-slavery characters like Grant, Clyburn replied, “To that I say, ignorance is bliss.”

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